Employment expert Ella Bond said companies who can achieve this were also more likely to maximise the talent within their business.
Her comments follow ‘menopause awareness month’ in October which shone an important light on this issue.
Many high-profile companies are already adopting new policies and processes in their business to better support employees suffering from menopause symptoms.
For example, cereals manufacturer Kellogg’s announced on October 29 that they will provide more support to staff experiencing the menopause.
Their spokesman said the firm wanted to ‘break the silence on issues often not discussed in the workplace’.
This move was mirrored by the High Street retailer Holland and Barrett which has become a founding partner of GenM, an organisation that encourages brands to recognise and respond to the needs of perimenopausal and menopausal women.
They join high street retailers Boots and Marks and Spencer’s as partners of the organisation.
Recent news reports have also highlighted high profile employment cases linked to this issue.
Last month an employee in Wales was reportedly disciplined for taking too much time off work due to menopause sickness. She later called for “greater understanding” around the issue and her call has now prompted debates in the House of Commons for a UK-wide strategy on menopause support to be created
Ms Bond, a solicitor at Harper James, who specialise in providing legal support on employment related issues to businesses, told HR News: “The ongoing stigma and lack of education around menopause can cause many issues for business owners and HR professionals, as the lack of awareness and transparency of the subject can cause bullying and harassment. Discrimination and harassment at work can worsen menopausal symptoms of anxiety and stress.
“Currently, there are 15.5m menopausal women in the UK, and 88% of these would like workplaces to be better set up to support menopausal women. 90% of menopausal women believe businesses should be working harder to be inclusive and cater to their needs and symptoms.
“Under the Equality Act 2010, inappropriate and insensitive handling of the menopause could be considered as indirect sex and/or age discrimination. In addition, severe menopausal symptoms could constitute a disability, invoking the protections associated with disability discrimination.
Ms Bond added: “As a business owner, you have a responsibility and duty to make reasonable adjustments for all employees who are classified as disabled and protect them from less favourable treatment. If you don’t, you risk the situation leading to an employment tribunal claim, as well as potential reputational damage and employee relations issues.
“You should consider the specific needs of menopausal women and ensure that the working environment will not worsen their symptoms. Simple changes to an employee’s role or working environment can help ensure that the menopause does not become a barrier to their performance.
“Aside from the discrimination, business owners may also risk losing valuable talent in their business if they don’t support their menopausal employees. As most women will experience menopausal symptoms at some stage, it’s good practice for businesses to do as much as possible to support menopausal employees to retain staff and to become more attractive to valuable talent in the future.”
Harper James has created a guide on how businesses can become more
Tips within it include important advice for line managers on understanding the role they can play; the need for a promotion of a culture that champions open and honest conversations around this issue; how to conduct training and awareness advice in this area and instructions and guidance on creating a menopause at work policy.
*To find out more and to read this important report in full visit www.hjsolicitors.co.uk